25 Weltt jr gútt prattwirst machen
So nempt 4 pfúnd schweinis vnnd 4 pfúnd rinderis, das last klainhacken, nempt darnach 2 pfúnd speck darúnder vnnd hackts anainander vnnd vngeferlich 3 seidlen wasser giest daran, thiet aúch saltz, pfeffer daran, wie jrs geren est, oder wan jr geren kreúter darin megt haben/ múgt jr nemen ain wenig ain salua vnnd ain wenig maseron, so habt jr gút brattwirst.
Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin

25 If you would make good bratwurst
Take four pounds of pork and four pounds of beef and chop it finely. After that mix with it two pounds of bacon and chop it together and pour approximately one quart of water on it. Also add salt and pepper thereto, however you like to eat it, or if you would like to have some good herbs , you could take some sage and some marjoram, then you have good bratwurst.

The text of the original recipe can be found here.

The translation is by Valoise Armstrong, and can be found here.

Bratwurst translates as “best meat.” They had become an important gourmet food by the sixteenth century

These bratwurst were made using an electric mincer with attached sausage stuffing tubes. In period, the meat was probably minced with a cleaver, as demonstrated in this YouTube video. The sausages could have been stuffed by spooning the mixture into the casing; however, you can also use a cowhorn with the tip removed. This creates a stiff tube onto which the sausage casing can be pushed, and makes the stuffing easier to stuff into the casing. This idea came from An Early Meal (pp 96-97).

Demonstration of cow horn to stuff sausages. The ideal length is 2/3 the length of your index finger.

The recipe below has been quartered.


450g pork (see notes) 500mL water 2 tbs marjoram
450g beef (see notes) 20g salt 1 tbs sage
225g streaky bacon 1.5 tsp pepper Sausage casing (see notes)


  1. Using either an electric mincer, hand mincer or cleaver, mince the meat very finely. If using a mincer, you may find passing the meat through the mincer twice will get the desired texture.
  2. Finely mince the herbs, then add the herbs, water, salt and pepper to the minced meat. Then mash it all together. You can really only do this step with your hands, unless you have commercial sausage making equipment (and hands are more fun). You can’t overmix here – in fact the aim is to make the meat texture as fine as possible. You will find the water helps greatly with this; it will be absorbed into the meat and keep it moist while the bratwurst are cooking.
  3. Keep mix-mashing the meat until you can lift a large chunk of mixture from the bowl, and it takes a while to fall from your open hand.

    Sausage mix fully mixed.

  4. Stuff the meat into the sausage skin. It can help to have a bowl underneath to put the sausage into. If using an electric machine, it can help to have two people involved – one to feed the meat into the hopper of the mincer, and one to pull the sausage away. Both people should try to work to a smooth rhythm.


  5. When you have used all your meat, cut away any unused sausage skin, leaving around 5cm at the end. Measure off the length of your desired sausage, then twist the long sausage at this point around 3 times to form the individual sausages. Measure off the desired length again, and repeat the twist. Hold the sausage below the point where you are twisting to stop the previous sausages from untwisting (it may take you a few goes to get the action right).
  6. To cook the sausages, bring a pot of lightly salted water to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and add the sausages. Cook until they have completely changed colour. If you have access to a smoker, you can also smoke your sausages.
  7. To serve, slice the sausages thinly, and serve with condiments such as mustard and ricotta cheese. Blackberry jam is also a weird but tasty serving option.


  • For a good sausage mix, you need around 20% fat. Much of this will come from the bacon. For the pork, I like to use shoulder, which has a good covering of fat and reasonably lean meat. For the beef, I like to use rump for the same reason. You might also be able to get extra fat from a butcher from their trimmings.
  • You can use synthetic casings or natural; the pictures in this recipe all use natural casings, which are the cleaned intestines of (usually) pigs. They can be obtained quite easily (and cheaply) from butchers.

Smoked bratwurst
Smoked Bratwurst

Boiled bratwurst
Simmered Bratwurst

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Bach, Volker (2016). The Kitchen, Food and Cooking in Reformation Germany.

Serra, Daniel and Tunberg, Hanna. An Early Meal. Chronocopia Publishing (2013).

Black Barida (Chicken in Raisin Sauce)

Pound black raisins very well. Stir and mash it with a small amount of vinegar. Strain the liquid and add a small amount of cassia, galangal as needed, and a little ginger. Pour over it some olive oil and add a small amount of chopped rue. Pour sauce over [roasted] pullets.
Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq, Kitab al’Tabikh Chapter XXXI (The Book of Dishes, trans. Nawal Nasrallah)

Baridas are cold dishes served at the start of the feast, after fresh fruit was served (Zouali, 2007, 56). They are generally composed of light foods – fish, chicken or vegetables, though there is an occasional recipe for red meat (Zouali, 2007, 63). It was believed the stomach took a while to “warm up,” and putting heavy food into an unwarmed stomach would cause indigestion (Zouali, 2007, 64).


1 roasted chicken, or 1.5kg roasted chicken pieces
375g raisins 2 tsp powdered ginger
80mL wine vinegar 3 tbs olive oil
1 tsp cassia or cinnamon 2 tbs finely chopped feverfew
½ tsp powdered galangal 1 tsp salt (optional)


  1. To make the sauce, grind the raisins and vinegar to a pulp in a mortar and pestle, or pulverise in a food processor.
  2. If the sauce is too dry, add more vinegar.
  3. Pass the mix through a sieve, add the rest of the ingredients and stir well.
  4. Combine the sauce and the chicken and serve cold.


  • I have followed Nasrallah’s lead in using roast chicken with this dish (Nasrallah, 2009, 167) – most chicken barida recipes in the same book specify roast chicken. However, it also works well with sliced poached chicken breast.
  • When using roast chicken in feasts, I like to use chicken wings chopped in half and roasted. They don’t take long to cook, and are very easy to portion (and they’re cheap!).
  • Cassia and cinnamon are spices obtained from the bark of related trees, and are often both identified simply as cinnamon. When powdered, cassia has a stronger smell, and is reddish in colour. You will probably need to go to a specialised spice store to find them differentiated (Hemphill, 2006, 156-163).
  • If using ginger, try to track down whole dried ginger which has to be grated before use. This is the way ginger would have been purchased in the medieval period, and it has a far more powerful flavour and scent.
  • I have replaced the rue with feverfew.  It has a regrettable tendency to cause allergic reactions (and miscarriages), plus is very bitter.  If you can’t find feverfew, you could also use rocket (arugula), in greater quantities. Both feverfew and rocket are also bitter, without the severe allergen problems.
  • I recommend using powdered galangal rather than fresh – fresh galangal can be tough, so it’s difficult to peel and cut.

Black Barida

Further Reading

Click on the links below to order books directly from the Book Depository.
Hemphill, Ian (2006) Spice Notes and Recipes
Nasrallah, Nawal (2009) Annals of the Caliphs’ Kitchens
Zaouali, Lilia (2007). Medieval Cuisine of the Islamic World.

Nuhud al-Adra – Virgin’s Breasts (Revisited)

Knead sugar, almonds, samid and clarified butter, equal parts, and make them like breasts, and arrange them on a brass tray. Put it in the bread oven until done, and take it out. It comes out excellently.
Kitab Wasf al-Atima al-Mutada Chapter XI (The Description of Familiar Foods, trans. Charles Perry)
Features in Medieival Arab Cookery, ed. Maxime Rodinson.

If I had to nominate a signature dish, this would probably be it. I have cooked this dish multiple times, and handed out the recipe many times as well (you can find the original recipe, along with the story of its development, here). It’s an easy recipe, the biscuits are delicious, and there is room for as much innuendo as you please.

However, the texture was slightly grainy. I put this down to the sugar, because it’s difficult to cream clarified butter and sugar together, and the sugar doesn’t completely dissolve. I have recently been revisiting Middle Eastern cooking with one of my apprentices, and I noticed there are recipes in various sources calling for powdered sugar (which in Australia is known as icing sugar). Knowing powdered sugar dissolves very quickly in any liquid (such as clarified butter), I wondered whether replacing the caster sugar with icing sugar would give a better result. It does. The resulting biscuits have a much smoother texture, and are easier to shape as the mix is moister.


200g clarified butter 200g semolina
200g icing sugar 200g almond meal


  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C.
  2. Mix the semolina and almond meal in a bowl.
  3. If your clarified butter is not melted, melt it, and then combine with the sugar until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is frothy. You can do this step with an electric mixer.
  4. Gradually add the combined semolina and almond meal to the butter and sugar – it is better to do this by hand.
  5. Take walnut sized balls of dough and press in to “breast” shapes. You can also mould small nipples and press them gently into the top of the “breasts.”
  6. Bake for around 12-15 minutes, until pale gold.


  • Clarified butter, or ghee, is butter with the milk solids removed. To make it, heat butter over a gentle heat until it is completely melted and bubbling. You will see a white scum on the surface. These are the milk solids. Strain the melted butter through a strainer lined with a double layer of muslin and you will be left with lovely clear clarified butter. Because the solids are the bit that makes butter go rancid, clarified butter does not need to be stored in the fridge. Some lactose intolerant people are fine with clarified butter, as most of the lactose is removed with the solids. You will need about 250g of butter to get 200g of clarified butter, or you can buy ghee from Indian or Middle Eastern grocers.
  • There is some debate about what samid is; it’s definitely some sort of wheat product, but it’s not normal wheat flour. Charles Perry believes it’s fine semolina (Perry, 2005, 22), which is made from durum wheat, also used to make pasta. It’s coarser than ordinary wheat flour. However, Nawal Nasrallah believes it’s finer than ordinary flour, in which case it would be similar to wheaten cornflour(Nasrallah, 2009, 573).
    Based on my own experimentation, I get better results from semolina, as wheaten cornflour loses too much structure in cooking, and you wind up with mush rather than dough. However , make sure you get fine semolina rather than coarse, as coarse semolina feels like sand in the mouth.
  • The original recipe specifies a “bread oven” temperature, which normally would mean a very hot oven. However, I have found that cooking the breasts at a temperature above 180°C leads to them burning quickly, while the middle is uncooked. And no one likes burned breasts.

Virgin's Breasts mk II

Further Reading

Click on the links below to order books directly from the Book Depository.
Nasrallah, Nawal (2009). Annals of the Caliphs’ Kitchens
Perry, Charles (2005). A Baghdad Cookery Book
Rodinson, Maxime (2006). Medieval Arab Cookery

Krautsuppe (Soup of Greens)

Setz Kraut zu mit einer Krautsuppen es sey geschnitten oder gehackt nimm gantzen Pfeffer und gantze Muschatenblüt darunter laß darmit sieden und wenn du es wilt anrichten so nimm darzu gebeht Schnitten von einem weck oder Ruckenbrot schmältzs mit heisser Butter und besträw es mit Ingwer. Marx Rumpoldt, Ein new Kuchbuch CXLIIr (1581)

Set potherbs to boil with a potherb soup, whether they are cut or chopped, and add whole pepper and mace to it, let it boil with that and when you want to serve it, take toasted slices of white bread or rye bread, enrich it with hot butter and strew ginger on it.

The text and translation of the recipe can be found in Volker Bach’s excellent collection of medieval period recipes that can be cooked in a camp setting, Plain Fare, which is available for download here.

“Pot herbs,” or leafy green vegetables, were staples of the medieval diet for all classes of people. However, green leaf soups for noble households invariably included costly spices, which made them very different to the soups that would have been served in a peasant household.


½ small head cabbage 1.5 L vegetable stock 1 tsp ginger
½ bunch chard ½ tsp pepper 25g butter
Bunch parsley ½ tsp mace Optional: Toasted bread


  1. Finely shred the cabbage, chard and parsley.
  2. Bring the vegetable stock to the boil, then add the vegetables, pepper, mace and salt. Cook until the leaves are soft. This will only take around a minute.
  3. Mix through the butter, and sprinkle with the ginger, just before serving.
  4. If desired, serve with toasted white or rye bread.


  • Do not cook the vegetables for long – otherwise they will go bitter and be unpleasant to eat.
  • The leafy vegetables I have used are suggestions only. You could use any other herbs such as chervil or coriander, or spinach in place of the cabbage or chard. You could even use kale, though I honestly don’t know why you’d bother.
  • You can find a C14 English recipe for a potherb soup here.

Potherb soup

Bowres (Duck Braised in Beer and Sage)

xv. Bowres.
Take Pypis, Hertys, Nerys, Myltys, an Rybbys of the Swyne; or ellys take Mawlard, or Gees, an chop hem smal, and thanne parboyle hem in fayre water; an þan take it vp, and pyke it clene in-to a fayre potte, an caste þer-to ale y-now, & sawge an salt, and þan boyle it ry?th wel; and þanne serue it forthe for a goode potage.
 MS. Harleian 279, Leche Vyaundez, xxxi.

Take lungs, hearts, ears, spleen and ribs of the pig; or else take mallard or goose, and chop them small, and then parboil them in fair water; and then take it up, and pick it clean into a fair pot, an caste thereto ale enough, and sage and salt, and than boil it right well; and then serve it forth for a good pottage.

When I first saw this recipe, I was struck by the simplicity. However, I decided I would not be using the innards of the pig; aside from the extreme difficulty of obtaining some of the bits, I was worried I’d be stuffed head first into the pot if I tried to serve it to anyone (I discovered this would probably be true when I mentioned the possibility of lung in a dish). I decided to use duck, as goose is expensive.

However, in writing up the recipe, I was suddenly struck with a thought – was the cook meant to use the innards of duck or goose, not the flesh? I decided to look for other recipes in other manuscripts. Fortunately, a quick search revealed Daniel Myers’ excellent site Medieval Cookery had already gathered all fifteenth century recipes similar to Bowres. These recipes used a variety of meats, with varying herbs and spices; the common thread was the braising in ale.

The version of Bowres in MS Harleian 279 is very plain, and uses everyday ingredients; if using the suggested pig innards, this would likely be the sort of dish cooked by a peasant or lower class urban family.


1.5 kg duck pieces bunch sage leaves
600mL beer or ale 1 tsp salt


  1. Joint the duck, and put in a pot.
  2. Cover the duck with water, and bring the pot to the boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook the duck until the skin and meat are opaque and much of the fat has been rendered from the duck.
  3. Allow the duck to cool slightly, and then pick the meat from the bones.
  4. Transfer the duck to a clean pot, and add the beer or ale, salt and shredded sage leaves.
  5. Simmer the duck until the liquid is considerably reduced, and the meat is falling apart.
  6. Serve the duck either in its cooking liquid, or strained.


  • If you are lucky enough to find true ale (that is, brewed without hops), it will give you a more authentic result.
  • You may find this recipe works better with duck legs and thighs. Though the breast has a thick covering of fat, the meat itself is quite lean, and not well suited to long, slow cooking (it turns rubbery and is unpleasant to eat).
  • Parboiling the duck before braising it renders the fat from the duck. Modern braises would suggest frying the duck first to achieve the same purpose; you may find this easier.


Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Austin, Thomas (ed.). Two Fifteenth Century Cookbooks

Jurjaniyya (Sour Lamb Stew)

Jurjaniyya: The way to make it is to cut up meat medium and leave it in the pot, and put water to cover on it with a little salt. Cut onions into dainty pieces, and when the pot boils, put the onions on it, and dry coriander, pepper, ginger and cinnamon, all pounded fine. If you want, add peeled carrots from which the woody interior has been removed, chopped medium. Then stir it until the ingredients are done. When it is done, take seeds of pomegranates and black raisins in equal proportion and pound them fine, macerate well in water and strain through a fine sieve. Then throw them into a pot. Let there be a little bit of vinegar with it. Beat peeled sweet almonds to liquid consistency with water, then throw them into the pot. When it boils and is nearly done, sweeten it with a little sugar, enough to make it pleasant. Throw a handful of jujubes on top of the pot and sprinkle a little rosewater on it. Then cover it until it grows quiet on a fire, and take it up. Kitab al Tabikh Chapter I (The Book of Dishes, trans. Charles Perry and published as A Baghdad Cookery Book).



For explanations of the ingredients, see the Notes below.

1.5kg lamb 2 tsp coriander seed 30g pomegranate seed 2 tsp sugar
3 onions 1½ tsp cinnamon 30g raisins 15mL rosewater
4 carrots 1½ tsp ginger 200mL almond milk 25g jujubes
1½ tsp salt 1 tsp pepper 45mL wine vinegar


  1. If you are using dried jujubes, put them in a bowl with just enough water to cover them, and leave aside to rehydrate.
  2. Cut the lamb into roughly equal sized pieces, removing any sinew (the silvery membrane you find on the edges of the meat).
  3. Put the lamb into a pot with just enough water to cover it, and the salt. Bring to the boil.
  4. Meanwhile, peel the onions and dice finely.
  5. Peel the carrots and slice into julienne strips, leaving out the core of the carrot.
  6. Finely grind the spices in a mortar or electric grinder.
  7. When the pot with the lamb is boiling, add the onion, carrot and spices. Stir well and reduce to a simmer.
  8. Meanwhile, put the pomegranate seeds and raisins in a mortar with enough water to cover them, and pound well.  This can also be done with a blender.  When the mixture has reached a smooth consistency, strain it through a fine cloth to remove any pieces of pomegranate seed.
  9. When the meat has started to soften and the liquid has reduced a little, add the raisin and pomegranate mix, vinegar and almond milk to the pot and continue to simmer.
  10. When the liquid has reduced and the meat is falling apart,  remove from the heat and add the sugar and the rose water, and mix well.  Transfer to a serving platter
  11. Drain the jujubes if necessary, and pour on top of the meat.  Serve warm.


  • The name of this dish derives from Gorgan, a city on the Caspian Sea (Perry, 2005, 31).
  • Jujubes (Ziziphus jujuba) are also known as red dates or Chinese dates (the Chinese names are da zao or hong zao – many thanks to Facebook user Andi Houston for the Chinese names), and you may be able to find them dried in Asian grocers. The can also be found in Middle Eastern grocers. They have quite a tart taste, which in this case complements the rich flavour of the lamb and the slight sweetness of the cooking liquid. If you can’t find true jujubes/red dates (and they aren’t the easiest thing to find) do not substitute regular dates, as they are too sweet. I would suggest sliced, red-skinned plums to imitate the taste and colour.
  • Stewed dishes such as this often specify “fat meat,” which becomes extremely tasty and succulent when cooked for a long time and slowly, such as in this dish. Look for cuts such as forequarter or neck to get the best results.

Mutton stew

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Perry, Charles (2005). A Baghdad Cookery Book.

Bāqillā bi-Khall (Broadbeans in Vinegar)

Bāqillā bi-Khall: Take green broad beans as soon as they are rough. Remove their external husks, then boil them in salt and water until they are done, and dry them off. Sprinkle a little caraway and finely pounded cinnamon on them. Pour a bit of sesame oil on them. Put good vinegar to cover on them, and use them. Kitab al Tabikh Chapter VII (The Book of Dishes, trans. Charles Perry and published as A Baghdad Cookery Book).

Anyone who has ever used broadbeans can work out quickly why they were largely replaced with New World varieties. Within the pods, each bean is enclosed by a hard, pale skin which should be removed before they are eaten, and this becomes incredibly tedious to do in quantity. However, anyone who has tasted broadbeans can work out why they never fell completely out of use – they are extremely delicious!

This dish would have been classed as a bārida, a cold dish with a vinegar based sauce, served at the start of a meal as an appetiser (Zaouali, 2007, 63).


For explanations of the ingredients, see the Notes below.

500g broad beans ½ tsp caraway
30mL virgin sesame oil ½ tsp ground cinnamon
45 mL vinegar




  1. Remove the broadbeans from the pods. Boil them in salted water for about a minute, then leave to cool.
  2. When the broadbeans are cool, remove pale, hard skin from the bright green inner bean.
  3. Sprinkle the spices over the beans.
  4. Pour the sesame oil over the beans, then pour over the vinegar.
  5. Serve the beans at room temperature.


  • Broad beans is another name for fava beans. If you can’t get them fresh (as this recipe clearly calls for) you may be able to find them frozen. You can also get them dried or canned.
  • If you are used to Asian cooking you’ll assume sesame oil should only be used sparingly, as the type of sesame oil used in Asian cooking can be overpowering if used heavily. However, this type of sesame oil is produced from toasted sesame seeds, which heavily concentrates the sesame flavour and aroma. If you are familiar with modern Indian or Middle Eastern cooking, you might have come across virgin or cold-pressed sesame oil, which is much paler and more subtly flavoured. This is the sort you need to use for baking.If are going to be cooking for anyone with a sesame allergy, almond oil, rice bran oil or canola oil make good substitutes (the last two don’t have any flavour).

Broad bean salad

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Perry, Charles (2005). A Baghdad Cookery Book.
Zaouali, Lilia (2007). Medieval Cuisine of the Islamic World.